For those sports fans of a certain age, the name “New York Cosmos” brings memories of soccer’s first real push into the United States thanks to the North American Soccer League. The Cosmos, the league’s premiere team, featured such international superstars as Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer, and Giorgio Chinaglia, who became the league’s all-time leading scorer. The Cosmos and the NASL brought soccer stars you could only see on shows like Soccer Made in Germany or the occasional Wide World of Sports broadcast and put them on the pitch right in front of you.
Chinaglia was a brash goal-scorer who came to the NASL with a solid soccer CV and a nation full of adoring fans. He soon became a big part of the reason soccer became popular in America in the late 70s and early 80s. Most recently, he joined the reformed Cosmos club as an international representative of the team and the sport. Today, he is dead at the age of 65.